One casualty of our tendency to lean toward dualistic thinking (Us v. Them, Good v. Bad, etc) is the divorce of Action and Reflection. The assumption is that one must choose between being a contemplative person or being an activist. This way of thinking tends to produce ungrounded, passionate activists and totally disengaged contemplatives. Both are only half of what they should be as we see in the final movement of the Examen–Resolve.
The Street Psalms community offers these words to guide us through this movement:
As your beloved ones who are forgiven and free, we freely forgive those who have done harm. We eagerly loose the chains of injustice that hold your children captive. We happily participate in the ongoing act of creation, expressing your lavish beauty in our daily work and play. Gracious God, because of your unending love we ask for one more grace. We ask for the grace to do and to will your good pleasure in our lives and in our world. Lord have mercy.
After spending the first four movements looking inward, attempting to catch a glimpse of something so often hidden under layers of distraction, we now acknowledge that God is stirring our soul to engage in the world around us. We are being invited toward forgiveness of those we have labeled “enemy”. We are being invited to non-violently shine the light of Christ in the midst of darkness when it threatens to hold God’s children captive. We are being invited into joyful participation in the continued creation of the world. We are being invited into an understanding that we, as the Body of Christ, are meant to do that which brings God pleasure within our world.
I spent a great deal of time trying to force the change I hoped for in this world. I looked out and saw the darkness. I saw the problems and I wanted to destroy them. In the end, it turned out that I didn’t have the energy to do what I thought God wanted me to do. I am only now beginning to see that when who we really are wells up inside of us–our Soul, our True Self, etc–we are far more prepared to shine a light into the darkness than when we thought we were going to destroy it. Action without a deep awareness of what lies inside each of us will ultimately lead to total exhaustion and mostly ineffective posturing that further divides the world into overly simplistic categories. On the other hand, ignoring God’s invitation to act will ultimately lead to an incomplete sort of faith that James calls “dead”. The older I get, the more I see what St. Ignatius was fostering through this spiritual exercise–the healthy marriage of action and reflection! When this happens we most certainly experience the light of Christ in even the darkest of places. Lord have mercy.
I will again leave you with a couple of questions from the Street Psalms community…
1. How is God’s Spirit leading?
2. What specific steps might we take?
Did you miss the first blog of the series? No worries. Just click here.